Roughly 10 years ago, this commercial was pretty popular. In a nutshell, it makes fun of the Mexican habit of putting lime on everything.
Toward the end of the commercial, where they´re squeezing lime on everything, even things that aren´t food, I thought to myself, "hmmm . . . so when Mexican babies have their birth certificates filed, do they get a little lime squeezed on their heads, as a kind of civil baptism?"
Can´t you just see it? Mom and Dad and baby, all gathered in the Registro Civil, ink from fingerprinting still wet on their fingerprints, and as the official is about to hand the birth certificate over to the proud parents, the government offical takes a half of lime, squeezes a few drops onto the infant´s head, saying, "I now pronounce you officially Mexican!"
I love it.
As we just registered baby boy, I was really tempted to do just that.
But the comparison between filing a birth certificate and Catholic baptism is even more striking recently--because it is now necessary to bring witnesses to sign the birth certificate.
When we registered our oldest daughter, the people who worked at the Registro Civil served as the witnesses on her birth certificate, and (I´m guessing) on the majority of other kids´ certificates, too. Or, if they Registry employees weren´t able to be witnesses, the Registry is right in front of a bus stop, so we could have just offered to pay someone their bus fare if they´d be willing to come in and sign their name on our kid´s birth certificate.
No longer. We are now required to bring our own witnesses--no more picking random strangers off the street.
Thank goodness it worked out for us the way it did! After all, we moved to Saltillo just two months before Clara was born--we simply didn´t have two people we knew who could serve as witnesses. This time around, though, it was a whole other story. First of all, Mario´s cousin lives with us. Witness #1--check! And Mario´s mom is visiting, to help take care of the baby. Witness #2--check!
However, the day that Mario took off of work to file the baby´s birth certificate, both of our older kids were sick. Since we couldn´t leave them at home alone, I was frantically on the phone, calling neighbors to see if they´d be willing to pay the Civil Registry a visit with us, taking Mario´s mom´s place as a witness.
Now that we´ve lived here for seven years, I had a number of people to call. And at the last minute, one of my lovely neighbor friends was able to join us in a pinch.
As I told her and Paty (Mario´s cousin) as we were heading home with the birth certificate in our hands, "you guys are like Baby´s civil godmothers!"
And it´s true. These women are, and will be, two of the more influential people in his life who will teach him, through example, how to be Mexican. After all, as much as I enjoy and respect this country, I´m not Mexican and am therefore ill-equipped to teach him how to be Mexican. I do my best, but--let´s face it--he needs a Paty and a Myra in his life.
His Mexican madrinas.